Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Ruth Absalom speaking to the Press

This report from "The People" of Sunday 20 July 2003 includes comments by Ruth Absalom:

TRAGIC Dr David Kelly killed himself by slashing his wrist after swallowing powerful painkillers, it was revealed yesterday.

Police found a knife and tablets at the spot where the brilliant defence scientist named as the Iraq weapons mole died.

They refused to say whether he left a suicide note.

As forensic experts in white boiler suits searched Dr Kelly's pounds 750,000 house and gardens for clues, a friend told how the quietly spoken father of three reassured her, "Everything will be fine, it will all work out" just before he vanished.

Dr Kelly, 59, bumped into widow Ruth Absalom - probably the last person to see him alive - about a mile from his house in the village of Southmoor, Oxon, last Thursday.

Ruth, who is in her 70s, said: "He seemed jolly and was smiling. He didn't seem to have a care in the world.

"We talked about the weather and about my dog Buster. It was just pleasantries and small talk. I said, 'I hope you sort out your problems' and he replied, 'Everything will be fine'."

Dr Kelly, a member of the Baha'i Church, a liberal off-shoot of Islam, then continued his tragic walk to wooded Harrowdown Hill, the beauty spot where his body was found on Friday after a huge police search.

Acting superintendent David Purnell confirmed that Dr Kelly died through bleeding from a wound to his left wrist.

"We have recovered a knife and an open packet of Coproxamol tablets," the officer added.

Earlier, Dr Kelly's 58-year-old wife Janice and a woman believed to be daughter Sian, 32, were driven by police in a people carrier with darkened windows to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, to formally identify his body.

Mrs Kelly was too distraught to comment when she returned home two hours later.

But the family issued a statement revealing that the pressure had become "intolerable" for Dr Kelly after his ferocious grilling by MPs over the Iraq war dossier. The unassuming civil servant had been identified as the possible source of BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan's story which said the dossier had been "sexed up" by Tony Blair's close aide Alastair Campbell.

The family's statement, read out by Mr Purnell, said: "Events over recent weeks made David's life intolerable and all of those involved should reflect long and hard on this fact."

In a moving tribute to widely respected Dr Kelly, they said: "We are utterly devastated and heartbroken by the death of our husband, father and brother. We loved him very much and will miss his warmth, humour, and humanity.

"Those who knew him will remember him for his devotion to his home, family and the community and countryside in which he lived. A loving, private and dignified man taken from us all."

The statement also praised Dr Kelly for the "integrity, honour and dedication to finding the truth" that marked his professional life.

"It is hard to comprehend the enormity of this tragedy," the family added.

Flowers and messages of condolence arrived at the house where police had removed the computer and files from the study where Dr Kelly researched Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons programme.

The Kellys had lived in the village for more than 20 years and were well respected by locals. Dr Kelly loved playing cribbage in the pub.

David Jordan, vice chairman of the local historical society, said: "This is like a dark cloud hanging over the village and everyone is in shock.

"David enjoyed walking but because Jan has a hip problem, she could no longer go with him.

"Jan is such a friendly lady and very outgoing - he was the introvert.

"You would knock on the door and David would answer then disappear into his study to carry on his work.

Mr Jordan said the couple's daughter Rachel is due to marry in October.

Roger Kingdon, 41, secretary of the Baha'i Church in nearby Abingdon, said: "David was a deeply spiritual man and took his faith seriously."

And this from the Daily Mirror the next day:

PENSIONER Ruth Absalom was the last person to see Dr Kelly alive when she bumped into him on his final stroll before his death.

Ruth, 75, was walking her dog Buster when she met her friend in fields not far from his Oxfordshire home.

She said: "We had been chatting for a few minutes, but he wanted to get on.

"He looked at his watch, and I said: 'Yes, I should get going. I'll see you again David'.

"He replied: 'Oh, I expect so Ruth, you know'."

Little did Ruth know that Dr Kelly was about to end his life in the next field.

Last night Dr Kelly's daughter, Ellen Wilson, suggested that he might have killed himself because he had been barred from going back to Iraq this week as a weapons inspector.

The scientist's friend, author Tom Mangold, said: "That would have destroyed him."

Dr Kelly was also devastated that colleagues at the Ministry of Defence had treated him like "a dissident".

One source said: "Dr Kelly was the most prominent British inspector in Iraq during the 1990s and then he found himself being hung out to dry."

Ellen, 30, said: "He felt there was a total lack of support."

A family friend said: "David's death is down to the Government. The politicians running the country are rotten to the core."

An inquest is due to open in Oxford today.
Caption: SCENE: Field where Dr Kelly died 

It's much too complex for me to comment in this post on the rest of the copy in these two press stories.  However I thought it right to fully quote the reports to give context for the quoted remarks by Ms Absalom; it's also interesting to see how contemporary reports were dealing with the death of Dr David Kelly.

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